Our MA in French and Comparative Literature involves the postgraduate study of literature beyond national and linguistic borders with a particular focus on French culture.
Comparative Literature at Kent involves the study of literature from two or more European cultures, to gain an intercultural and transnational understanding of cultural practice. The MA in French and Comparative Literature introduces you to a wide range of theoretical perspectives, enriching your appreciation of the cultures, texts and critical practices examined in the programme’s various modules. You benefit from expert teaching from members of the Department of Modern Languages and the Department of Comparative Literature and thus participate in an interdisciplinary dialogue.
Kent provides an ideal location in which to study French culture; our Canterbury campus is close to mainland Europe, with Paris only a couple of hours away by Eurostar.
In the Autumn and Spring terms, you take a choice of four modules, before undertaking a 12,000 word dissertation over the summer with supervision from an expert within the department. There is also a version of this programme which allows you to spend the spring term in Paris.
This programme is ideal for modern languages graduates who wish to consolidate their knowledge in a wider context; English graduates wishing to diversify their interests; and graduates in other humanities subjects (history, philosophy, theology) who would like to apply their knowledge to literary and visual material.
In the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014, modern languages and linguistics was ranked 3rd for research quality, 3rd for research output and in the top 20 for research intensity, research impact and research power in the UK.
Our submission was the highest ranked nationally to include modern languages – a testament to our position as the UK’s European university. An impressive 100% of our research was judged to be of international quality and the School’s environment was judged to be conducive to supporting the development of world-leading research.
The following modules are indicative of those offered on this programme. This list is based on the current curriculum and may change year to year in response to new curriculum developments and innovation. Most programmes will require you to study a combination of compulsory and optional modules. You may also have the option to take modules from other programmes so that you may customise your programme and explore other subject areas that interest you.
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FR866 - Literature and Theory
This module will introduce students to a wide range of theoretical positions with the aim of enriching their understanding and appreciation of literature and critical practice. We will begin with the thinking of Nietzsche and Freud, before examining that of Saussure, Benjamin, Lévi-Strauss, Genette, Foucault, Lacan, Derrida, Deleuze and Guattari, Kristeva, Cixous, and Irigaray. As well as encouraging a critical engagement with the claims of the theories themselves the module will examine a number of representative theoretical readings of literary works. Students will learn to evaluate these various thinkers and use their ideas, as appropriate, in their own writing.Read more
CP811 - Writing Unreason: Literature and Madness in the Modern World
This module is designed to introduce students to major literary works (in various genres) from the early nineteenth century to the present day that explore the theme of madness, with a particular focus on the function of madness as a metaphor. The module will encourage students to consider the historical contexts out of which the various texts emerge, and to analyse the ways in which modern European literature takes up the theme of madness to explore social, psychological, philosophical, religious, and aesthetic questions. Particular attention will be paid to the close analysis of literary style in order to assess each writer's attempt to capture the discourse of madness. Topics for consideration will include the relation between artistic creativity and madness, madness as a form of socio-political resistance, madness and gender, the figure of the 'double', and, above all, the extent to which Michel Foucault is justified in claiming in 'The History of Madness' that in the post-Enlightenment period 'unreason has belonged to whatever is decisive, for the modern world, in any work of art'.Read more
CP815 - Tales of the Fantastic
Theoretical interest in the fantastic has increasingly developed over recent decades following the acclaimed seminal study by Todorov, The Fantastic (1973). Students will explore major works of the genre from several European countries in conversation with a range of critical perspectives (such as discourse theory, narrative theories, and psychoanalytical theory). The comparative nature of the module will also afford an opportunity to enhance understanding of the literatures and specific texts studied in their respective cultural contexts.Read more
CP816 - Literature and Capitalism
By studying literary works in conjunction with economic and sociological theory, this module investigates the manifold ways in which literary texts may reflect and/or critique the social, political, and economic contexts in which they were produced. Proceeding chronologically from the beginning of the nineteenth century to the present day, we shall analyse literary texts that engage with the psycho-social consequences of capitalism in its various manifestations. Topics of enquiry include the socio-political and psychological repercussions of industrialization, bureaucratization, globalization and neoliberalism and how these have been theorized and represented aesthetically, as well as questions pertaining to alienation and disenchantment, the rationalization of everyday life, work ethics, burnout, the psychology of consumption, and broader ethical issues relating to the tension between economic self-interest and communal values. Theoretical works we will study on this module include extracts from Marx, Weber, and Simmel, as well as texts by Adorno, Hardt and Negri, Sennett, Boltanski and Chiapello, Klein, Ehrenberg and Crary.Read more
FR804 - Real Fictions: The Documentation of Modernity
The nineteenth-century novel has traditionally been seen in terms of categories or movements such as romanticism, realism, and naturalism. This module, rather than viewing novels in terms of their supposed adherence to the principles of particular aesthetic movements, reads a selection of nineteenth-century French novels as documentary fictions: fictions which document the modernity that makes them possible, and which are underpinned by incorporative documentary practices for which that modernity is also a condition of possibility. Of particular interest will be the ways in which contemporary discourses from various fields (medicine, science, historiography, social thought) are incorporated into these fictions. Rather than identifying ‘sources’, however, the emphasis will be on situating fictional texts in their wider discursive and epistemological contexts, and identifying points of commonality between literary and extraliterary discourses.Read more
FR806 - Writing the Network in Modern French Culture
This module explores cultural representations of the infrastructural, physiological, virtual, institutional, disciplinary and discursive networks underpinning modernity, and possible theoretical approaches to the connections between them. A range of literary texts from the mid-19th century to the late 20th century will be studied: these include novels which originally appeared in networks or series of texts (Zola's Rougon-Macquart series; Proust’s A la recherche du temps perdu); autobiographical writings (Roubaud’s La Boucle), and political detective fiction (Manotti). Seminars will involve discussion of this selection of literary texts, all of which articulate and problematize the notion of the network or the system, particularly as it pertains to the metaphorical representation of discourse and knowledge. The module invites students to identify and analyse the networks at work within the various texts we study, and in some cases between them. What do representations of networks tell us about the organization of knowledge in a given society? In considering this and similar questions, students will be encouraged to reflect on the infrastructural nature of modernity generally, and on the specific infrastructures which inform French literature and culture.Read more
FR807 - Postmodern French Detective Fiction
This module examines a selection of French novels from the post-war period to the present day. Each of these novels employs the tropes of detective fiction as part of a wider literary project. The module invites students to analyse the ways in which the hermeneutic imperative of detective fiction is deployed within literary (and often experimental) fiction from this period. The corpus will include nouveaux romans, works by the Oulipo writer Georges Perec, the postmodern detective fictions of Pennac and Echenoz, and Amélie Nothomb’s autofiction. Students will be encouraged to explore questions of genre fiction, the productive interplay between genre fiction and literary fiction during this period, and the ways in which the tropes of detective fiction are used during the postmodern period to explore questions of knowledge, truth and identity.Read more
FR998 - French Dissertation
The topic of the dissertation will usually be based on, and develop from, work undertaken on one or more of the four coursework modules undertaken in the course of the MA.Read more
Teaching and Assessment
Assessment is by one 5,000-word essay for each module and the dissertation.
The programme aims to:
- provide the opportunity for you to obtain a postgraduate qualification (MA) in one year, and to allow, if required, a smooth transition to doctoral studies
- allow you to study modules in both modern French studies and comparative literature
- develop your knowledge and understanding of relevant aspects of contemporary Paris and the cultural history of the city as reflected in modern French, European, English and American literatures and other artistic media
- enhance your comprehension and communication skills in both French and English
- develop your awareness of various critical and research methodologies and of the interplay between literature, art and cultural context
- provide teaching which is informed by current research and scholarship and which requires you to engage with aspects of work at the frontiers of knowledge
- provide a deepening of intercultural awareness and understanding
- provide opportunities for the further development of personal, communication and research skills and other key skills appropriate for graduate employment both in industry and in the public sector
- provide further development of critical, analytical, problem-solving and other transferable skills.
Knowledge and understanding
You gain knowledge and understanding of:
- the French language
- aspects of French literature and the visual arts
- aspects of comparative literature
- The cultural history of modern France, as reflected in art and literature
- research methodology
- critical theory and its application to the appreciation of literature and to a research dissertation.
You gain intellectual skills in:
- comprehension, both oral and written, in French and English
- research methodology: the ability to gather, organise and deploy evidence, data and information from a variety of secondary and primary sources
- the ability to reason logically, critically and analogically
- the ability to evaluate complex information critically
- the ability to synthesise complex information from a number of sources in order to gain a coherent understanding of the subject
- the ability to identify, investigate, analyse, formulate and advocate solutions to problems. Develop reasoned arguments, synthesise relevant information and exercise critical judgement
- learning to work in different environments by adapting to the educational, cultural and professional environments of England and France, while adopting an interdisciplinary approach to literary studies.
You gain subject-specific skills in:
- the ability to communicate at an advanced academic level in French and English
- an advanced knowledge and effective understanding of the various structures and registers of French
- an advanced ability to analyse a variety of sources, both textual and visual, in French and English
- develop an appreciation of a variety of literary styles and art forms and their lines of divergence and convergence
- develop a comprehensive knowledge of the cultural development of modern Paris, as expressed in literature and art
- a comprehensive understanding and ability to apply and evaluate various theoretical approaches to the study of literature and other art forms.
You will gain the following transferable skills:
- the ability to communicate orally at a high standard
- the ability to produce written work of a high standard, in an appropriate register, in French and English
- a high level of competence in information processing, using relevant databases and online research
- the ability to undertake group tasks that will encourage co-operative skills
- problem-solving skills in a variety of theoretical and practical situations
- time management.
A postgraduate qualification from the University of Kent opens up a wealth of career opportunities by providing an impressive portfolio of skills and specialist knowledge.
A postgraduate degree in French studies is an extremely versatile qualification that can open the door to exciting career opportunities in many professions. Our graduates have gone on to work in the IT industry, academic administration, cultural management and to further postgraduate training and academic careers at UK and overseas universities.
We also recommend that you take advantage of the expertise and knowledge available from our Careers and Employability Service in Canterbury, which provides a range of advice, guidance and opportunities to enhance your career.
About French at Kent
French at Kent is part of the Department of Modern Languages. Our main research interests include word and image studies, narratology, literary theory, psychoanalysis, medical humanities, sociolinguistics, postcolonial studies, gender studies and autobiography. Staff and postgraduates in French take a leading role in the School of European Culture and Languages’ Centre for Modern European Literature and the School of English’s Centre for Studies in the Long Eighteenth Century, whose activities include conferences, lectures, research seminars and reading groups. Students also participate in an annual international conference organised by Skepsi, an online journal based in the School of European Culture and Languages and run by MA and PhD candidates.
Our programmes benefit from Kent’s proximity to Paris in more than one way. Most colleagues within French have research links in Paris. We have a long-standing exchange with the prestigious École Normale Supérieure. A more recent development is the exciting range of MA programmes based in Canterbury and Paris. Students who undertake their research entirely in Canterbury benefit from the cosmopolitan atmosphere at the UK’s European university.
The Templeman Library has excellent holdings in all areas relevant to our research, with particular strengths in 18th, 19th, 20th and 21st-century French literature. The School of European Culture and Languages provides high-quality IT facilities, including state-of-the-art media laboratories, dedicated technical staff and designated areas for postgraduate study. Other facilities include all-purpose teaching rooms and two networked multimedia laboratories.
Every year, a considerable number of French nationals and native speakers of other foreign languages follow our postgraduate courses, while European exchange students who come to Kent as undergraduates often stay on to do graduate work. We are involved in the Erasmus and Tempus networks, and we also have a team of foreign- French-language lectors who combine undergraduate teaching with study for a Kent higher degree or with writing a dissertation for their home universities. Postgraduate dissertations in French studies at the University of Kent may be written in English or in French. The University of Kent also offers language training, particularly in English, for overseas postgraduates.
The Graduate School offers all postgraduates in the School of European Culture and Languages a wide-ranging programme of training in transferable skills. Postgraduates in the School of European Culture and Languages also organise their own annual international conference, and edit and contribute to Skepsi, the School’s postgraduate online journal of European thought.
In the most recent Research Assessment Framework (2014), Modern Languages at Kent was ranked 3rd in the UK, with a high proportion of our research publications judged to be first-rate (“world-leading” or “internationally excellent”). Backed by strong institutional support, our group continues to make an assertive and original contribution to French studies in the UK. Our research activities are given a markedly international dimension by publications, conference papers and public lectures in mainland Europe, the USA, Australia and elsewhere, as well as a range of collaborative ventures.
Dynamic publishing culture
Staff publish regularly and widely in journals, conference proceedings and books. Among others, they have recently contributed to: Australian Journal of French Studies; Diderot Studies; Dix-neuf; Forum for Modern Language Studies; French Cultural Studies; French Studies; Modern Language Review; Revue Romane; and Romance Quarterly.
Global Skills Award
All students registered for a taught Master's programme are eligible to apply for a place on our Global Skills Award Programme. The programme is designed to broaden your understanding of global issues and current affairs as well as to develop personal skills which will enhance your employability.
A first or upper-second class honours degree in a relevant subject or equivalent.
All applicants are considered on an individual basis and additional qualifications, professional qualifications and experience will also be taken into account when considering applications.
Please see our International Student website for entry requirements by country and other relevant information for your country. Please note that international fee-paying students cannot undertake a part-time programme due to visa restrictions.
English language entry requirements
The University requires all non-native speakers of English to reach a minimum standard of proficiency in written and spoken English before beginning a postgraduate degree. Certain subjects require a higher level.
For detailed information see our English language requirements web pages.
Need help with English?
Please note that if you are required to meet an English language condition, we offer a number of pre-sessional courses in English for Academic Purposes through Kent International Pathways.
Staff interests broadly fit within the parameters of French literature and thought from the 18th century to the present, with research clusters organised around the following areas: the European Enlightenment and Counter-Enlightenment; Ekphrasis; Franco-Sino relations; Life Writing; Medical Humanities; Philosophy and Critical Theory; French Surrealism; Cubism; the Avant-Garde; the interface between visual arts and text.
Recent publications have focused on authors, artists and thinkers including the following: Apollinaire; Artaud; Badiou; Barthes; Blanchot; Cocteau; Crébillon fils; Deleuze; Diderot; Djebar; Flaubert; Foucault; Houellebecq; Lacan; Maupassant; Mérimée; Nimier; Proust; Sade; Yourcenar; Zola.
Centre for Modern European Literature
Many of the most significant European writers and literary movements of the modern period have traversed national, linguistic, and disciplinary borders. Co-directed by members of Comparative Literature, French, and German, the Centre for Modern European Literature aims to promote collaborative interdisciplinary research that can do justice to these kinds of border crossing.
Ranging across English, French, German, Italian and Spanish literature, the Centre focuses in particular on the European avant-garde, European modernism and postmodernism, literary theory, the international reception of European writers, and the relations between modern European literature and the other arts, including painting, photography, film, music and architecture. The Centre’s activities include a lecture and seminar series and the regular organisation of conferences. It also works with the editors of the postgraduate-run journal Skepsi.
Staff research interests
Full details of staff research interests can be found on the School's website.
Dr Thomas Baldwin: Reader in French
Nineteenth and 20th-century French literature; representations of art in literature; literary theory and philosophy.View Profile
Dr Larry Duffy: Senior Lecturer in French
Nineteenth-century French literature, thought and culture; Flaubert, Zola; Houellebecq; realism, naturalism and documentary literature; the body.View Profile
Dr James Fowler: Senior Lecturer in French
Novels, drama and other writings of the 18th century; Diderot and the Enlightenment; prudes and their relation to libertinage; narratology; psychoanalysis; discourses of the body; Richardson’s reception in France.View Profile
Dr David Hornsby: Senior Lecturer in French and Linguistics
The history of the French language; sociolinguistics of French; sociolinguistic theory.View Profile
Professor Ben Hutchinson: Professor of Modern European Literature
Nineteenth and 20th-century German and European literature, especially Rilke, W G Sebald, Jean Améry, Hans-Georg Gadamer, Geoffrey Hill, 20th-century poetry, modernism.View Profile
Dr Lucy O'Meara: Lecturer in French
Literary and cultural theory; aesthetics; Roland Barthes.View Profile
Dr Katja Haustein: Lecturer in Comparative Literature
French and German autobiographical writing; visual culture; memory and identity; literature and the emotions; women and gender; art and medicine.View Profile
Dr Patricia Novillo-Corvalan: Lecturer
Modernism, 20th-century Hispanic and Latin American literature; Borges, Cortázar, Joyce; reception studies; medical humanities.View Profile
Dr Axel Staehler: Reader in Comparative Literature
Jewish literature and culture, early modern European festival culture, the 18th-century novel in Europe, intermediality and ‘iconarratology’, postcolonial literature and theory, contact zones and intercultural communication, fundamentalism and literature.View Profile
Dr Xiaofan Amy Li: Lecturer in Comparative Literature
France and China/East-Asia in the 20th and 21st centuries, the French reception of Chinese antiquity.View Profile
Dr Anna Katharina Schaffner: Reader in Comparative Literature
Modernist literature, the history of sexuality, the European avant-garde, the history of medicine and psychoanalysis.View Profile
Professor Shane Weller: Professor of Comparative Literature
European modernism, postmodernism and literary theory; Beckett, Kafka, Blanchot, Celan, Bernhard, Sebald; literature and ethics; literature and philosophy; history of ideas.View Profile
Dr Sara-Louise Cooper: Lecturer in French
French language and literature from the nineteenth century to the present day.View Profile
Dr Tobias Heinrich: Lecturer in German
German literature, culture and language.View Profile
The 2019/20 annual tuition fees for this programme are:
|French and Comparative Literature - MA at Canterbury:|
For students continuing on this programme fees will increase year on year by no more than RPI + 3% in each academic year of study except where regulated.* If you are uncertain about your fee status please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
General additional costs
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